Pacific Media Watch

22 August 2012

NZ: Journalist launches public interest news site

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Bernard Hickey, founder of Photo:

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch): Prominent New Zealand journalist and former managing director of Bernard Hickey has launched a new public interest news site, proclaiming that an “exciting era for the Fourth Estate has just begun”.

Hickey spoke to Jeremy Rose on Radio New Zealand’s Mediawatch programme, saying it was time for New Zealand to look to independent sources of news for quality journalism.

"There's only so much you can support with advertising," he said.

"When it comes to news that supports a democracy, an economy, a group of people, it’s going to be very difficult to fund that from online paywalls, which is where a lot of the media are going."

Hickey told Rose he was starting from the ground up – looking for contributions from members of the public, and trying to create a structure of public journalism with his new site.

He said the aim was to cover the areas neglected by the “traditional media”.

Hickey said the current “diet” of news in New Zealand left a lot to be desired.

He said it was “very high sugar, entertainment-based news, Sonny-Bill Williams, TV-shows, but not a lot of protein in that news diet.”

He said “real journalism” has to be supported by the public, rather than advertising flows.

Hickey said he was looking for multiple donors to support the new venture, and said it was risky to rely on one big donor for support in case the venture is turned into a vehicle for their views.

He said companies like Fairfax were under siege by wealthy interests such as Gina Rinehart in Australia.

Hickey said “crowdsource” and “citizen” journalism was on his radar with

He also mentioned Pro-Publica, the independent and not-for-profit news organisation in the United States and said his aim was to emulate their success.

“It has won Pulitzer prizes by working with the community but also working in tandem with the established outlets like big television stations.”

On the website there is a poll asking readers to say how much they would be willing to pay for a basic membership with the new venture.

Original Mediawatch programme


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Alex Perrottet

PMW contributing editor 2011-2012

Alex Perrottet is a journalist who has completed a Masters degree and Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies student at AUT University.